Up to 1.5 million British tourists have been left in limbo after the Government removed Spain from its list of safe countries exempt from coronavirus quarantine rules.
As of midnight on Saturday, holidaymakers must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the UK from the European nation after it recorded 2,255 new Covid-19 cases on Friday – sparking fears of a second wave.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the move, saying ministers would not apologise for taking “swift” action to protect Britons against the disease.
The scrapping of the travel corridor comes as the number of confirmed cases of the virus surpassed 16 million worldwide, with 4.1 million reported in the US alone.
In other developments, Boris Johnson is set to unveil a new ‘Better Health’ campaign tomorrow in a bid to encourage Britons to slim down to protect against the worst symptoms of the disease, and the UK’s official death toll rose by 14 overnight.
Follow our live updates here…
No further coronavirus deaths in Ireland
The Department of Health has confirmed that there have been no further deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours in Ireland.
The health system has been notified of another 12 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps holds video call with UK airlines and the British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott
Mr Shapps is currently abroad in Spain and will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon his return.
He tweeted: “Following the unexpectedly rapid rise in Spain’s #coronavirus cases, I held a video call with UK airlines our Ambassador @HughElliottUK today in order to ensure close coordination to help UK nationals return from Spain. We will all need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.”
North Korea has declared a state of emergency in a city near its border with South Korea over concerns the country has its first coronavirus case.
The measure was taken on Friday afternoon after a resident of Kaesong who is suspected of fleeing the country to South Korea years ago, illegally crossed the border into North Korea early last week, said North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA).
Encouraging Britons to cycle to tackle obesity as UK emerges from lockdown is a “no-brainer” says Olympic gold medallist
Chris Boardman, who also serves as Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, has backed the Government’s 12-week health plans set to be rolled out as part of the Prime Minister’s obesity strategy.
The British Cycling policy adviser said introducing more segregated lanes and better cycle infrastructure would “tick so many boxes” both physically and mentally as the country emerges from lockdown.
He told the PA news agency:
It’s clear that more people want to cycle, so many have discovered the benefits during lockdown and have seen improvements to their physical and mental wellbeing.
By introducing more safe cycling routes, more people would be encouraged to continue cycling once lockdown ends and this would tick so many boxes, not just in fighting obesity and other inactivity-related diseases, but in tackling air pollution and mental ill-health.
The Government gets a massive yes from me, and I’m not sure why this hasn’t been done sooner, it’s become a case of ‘why not?’
It would be neglecting the health of the nation not to – it’s a cheap treatment to conditions such as type 2 diabetes.”
The dashboard has now been updated: another 14 deaths have been confirmed across all settings in the UK
Here’s the data on the Government website:
UK reports another 747 coronavirus cases
As of 9am this morning, 299,426 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK – up by 747 on yesterday.
The number of deaths has not yet been updated on the Department of Health dashboard.
Here’s a wrap of today’s hospital figures:
The UK’s coronavirus hospital death toll has increased by 10, which is the second-lowest total on a Sunday since lockdown began.
A further nine people have died in hospital in England from coronavirus
A further nine people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,281, NHS England said.
Patients were aged between 36 and 89, and all had known underlying health conditions.
Another three deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
Wales reports one new coronavirus death
Wales’s coronavirus death toll has risen by one overnight, taking the total number of fatalities to 1,549.
The country has also confirmed another two cases of Covid-19, bringing the infection count to date to 17,125.
Spain says quarantine shouldn’t be about ‘tit-for-tat’
Spain’s foreign minister has refused to comment on whether the country will now start imposing quarantine rules on people coming from the UK, saying “this is not a political exercise”.
“This is not a tit-for-tat exercise, we will take measures on the basis of epidemiological data,” Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters.
“If we think that in any country in Europe the epidemiological data requires stricter measures on our side, we will do this – this is not a political exercise, this is not a diplomatic exercise.
“This is an exercise to protect the health and safety of our citizens – Spaniards as well as tourists who love coming to Spain and whom we hope will continue coming to Spain, because Spain is a safe country.”
Scotland records no new coronavirus deaths for 10th day running
Scotland has recorded four new confirmed cases of coronavirus overnight, according to the latest Scottish Government figures.
A total of 18,551 people have now tested positive for the virus north of the border.
No deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19 have been recorded for ten consecutive days, meaning the toll remains at 2,491.
The percentage of people testing positive remains at 0.2 per cent, the figures indicate, down from 0.7 per cent yesterday.
Jet2.com to continue flights to Spain
Tour operator Jet2.com said it was continuing to run its scheduled programme of flights to and from mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.
A spokesperson said: “We are still operating flights and holidays to four destinations in mainland Spain (Costa de Almeria, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia), which are open and are located away from areas which have been impacted by increased cases of Covid-19.
“In light of the updated advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), we are in the process of reviewing options for customers due to travel to these four destinations.”
They added: “We are also continuing to operate flights and holidays to our destinations in the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands as scheduled.
“Because the FCO travel advice to these destinations remains unchanged, our usual terms and conditions apply.
“As always, we advise customers to purchase appropriate travel insurance before travelling.”
Back to Spain:
The Spanish government is urging the UK to exclude the Balearic and Canary islands from its 14-day quarantine rule.
“Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters this lunchtime.
“We keep in a dialogue with European governments to transmit this message of calm and responsibility,” she said.
“We are doing so with the UK Government who has recently adopted a set of quarantine measures for Spain in particular.
“At the moment our dialogue efforts are focused on excluding from the quarantine measures the Balearic and the Canary Islands.
“[This is] for two reasons – number one, these are islands, very safe territories; number two, their epidemiological data is extremely positive and well below epidemiological data in the UK.
“We do hope that this dialogue we have started with the UK authorities, together with the governments of the Balearic and Canary Islands, will bear fruit shortly.”
Tony Blair’s thinking dismissed by scientists
Baroness Harding said the current scientific thinking did not agree with former prime minister Tony Blair’s call for the whole population to be regularly tested for Covid-19.
The NHS test and trace chief told Times Radio: “I would agree that more of us coming forward for testing is a good idea.
“Whether it is right for everyone to be tested every week is more a question for the scientists than it is for me who currently say that most the country has low prevalence of the virus now which is a great thing.
“What that means is if all of us were tested every week, a lot of us would be told we have the disease when we actually didn’t and when there’s very small prevalence of the disease you get more of those people being told they have the disease when they haven’t than actually have got it.
“So, that would be dangerous and that’s the advice we’re receiving from our scientists and experts right now.”
Here’s a clip of Blair on Sky News’s Sophie Ridge earlier:
Testing isn’t an antidote to quarantine – test and trace chief
Baroness Dido Harding, head of the NHS test and trace scheme, said testing people arriving back from Spain would not circumvent the need for travellers to self-isolate for two weeks.
Her comments come after ministers removed Spain from the safe list of destinations to travel to after the European country saw a spike in coronavirus cases.
Speaking to Times Radio, she said: “Unfortunately, although we’d love it to be true that if you have a test today, we can be confident in saying you are not infectious and about to come down with disease, that’s not the way the virus works.
“A test today is only as good as saying you haven’t got the test today.
“The incubation period can be quite a long time, which is why if you’ve been in a very high-risk environment – and right now the judgment of our scientists and clinicians is that Spain is a high-risk environment – we need you to isolate for 14 days because you might test negative today and test positive tomorrow or the next day, right up to the end of that 14-day period.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has placed a city near the border with South Korea under lockdown over concerns the country has its first coronavirus case, state media reported.
The measure was taken on Friday afternoon after a resident of Kaesong was found with suspected Covid-19 symptoms, according to North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA).
It added the person is a runaway who had fled to South Korea years ago before illegally crossing the border into the North early last week.
If that person is officially declared a virus patient, he or she would be the North’s first confirmed coronavirus case with the country steadfastly saying it has no single virus case on its territory, a claim questioned by outside experts.
The news agency said respiratory secretion and blood tests showed the person “is suspected to have been infected” with the virus.
It said the suspected case and others who were in contact as well as those who have been to Kaesong in the last five days were placed under quarantine.
Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” North Korea earlier this year shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned foreign tourists and mobilised health workers to quarantine anyone with symptoms.
Earlier this month, Mr Kim urged officials to stay alert over the coronavirus threat, warning that complacency risks “unimaginable and irretrievable crisis”.
TUI, Europe’s biggest holiday company, has cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including Sunday August 9.
In a statement following the reimposition of quarantine rules, it said: “TUI UK have taken the decision to cancel all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including Sunday 9th August 2020.
“We know how much our customers look forward to their holiday abroad and some will be able to accommodate the new quarantine restrictions.
“Therefore all those that wish to travel to the Balearic Islands and Canary Isands will be able to travel as planned from Monday 27th July.”
Is the US scuppering coronavirus treatment efforts?
Global efforts to find Covid-19 medicines are being hindered by the haphazard use of treatments in the US, the expert leading Britain’s quest for a cure has said.
Speaking to The Observer newspaper, Professor Martin Landray said American researchers have been compromising attempts to find a treatment by testing drugs in “an arbitrary, willy-nilly way”.
The UK’s Recovery Trial programme has involved 12,000 patients at several hundred British hospitals.